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Sanju Samson likely to be India's first-choice wicketkeeper for T20 World Cup

Sanju Samson likely to be India's first-choice wicketkeeper for T20 World Cup
Rajasthan Royals (RR) skipper Sanju Samson is likely to be India's first choice wicketkeeper-batter for the ICC T20 World Cup this year, taking place in West Indies and USA from June 1, ESPNCricinfo reported on Monday.

Rishabh Pant, who made his return to competitive cricket this IPL after a car accident in 2022, Lucknow Super Giants (LSG) skipper KL Rahul and Mumbai Indians (MI) star Ishan Kishan are other players in contention for the spot the primary keeper-batter for the tournament.

Samson is outdoing his competition, sitting at the fourth spot in the IPL 2024 run charts with 385 runs at an average of 77.00 and a strike rate of 161.08, with four half-centuries. His best score is 82*.

Rahul is the fifth-highest run-scorer this season, with 378 runs at an average of 42.00 and four half-centuries, though his strike rate of around 144 is quite low as compared to other compatriots. Pant is the sixth-highest run-getter with 371 runs in 10 matches at an average of 46.37 and a strike rate of 160.60, with three fifties. His best score is 88*.

Kishan, who does not have a Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) central contract, is doing worst among all, with just 212 runs in nine games at an average of 23.55 and a half-century, but his strike rate of 165.62 is the best among the contenders.

IPL form is not expected to play a huge role in the team selection. The management and selectors are believed to be excited about LSG pace sensation Mayank Yadav's pace and control, but he is nursing an injury and that may likely put an end to possibility of his getting a T20 World Cup berth.

The top four had been more or less decided before the IPL, with skipper Rohit Sharma, Yashasvi Jaiswal set to open, Virat Kohli at number three and number one-ranked T20I batter Suryakumar Yadav at number four.

Star all-rounder Hardik Pandya is battling with Shivam Dube and Rinku Singh. As per ESPNCricinfo, his bowling fitness during MI's matches is a concern. He bowls mostly two overs per match for his franchise in the IPL and has done very little in the league as a performer.

If India were to take Shivam Dube and Rinku to the WC, they will have to leave out either a back-up keeper or a back-up bowler. It would most likely be a choice between Rinku and a back-up pacer.

Veteran all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja could be preferred over Axar Patel as the spin-bowling all-rounder and Axar could be in the squad as a back-up. Kuldeep is likely to feature as the sole finger spinner in the squad of 15.

Also, Mohammed Shami's injury has lessened India's fast bowling stocks, with Jasprit Bumrah set to lead the attack. Arshdeep Singh's left-arm pace is highly likely to be a part of Indian set-up, despite his disappointing performances in death overs. Avesh Khan from Rajasthan Royals is in contention because of his hit-the-deck abilities and height and so is Mohammed Siraj, who has not been at his best for Royal Challengers Benglaru, having taken just six wickets in nine games.

Harshit Rana from Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Lucknow Super Giant's Mohsin Khan have left a good impression on selectors, but their fitness reportedly not at peak could very well hamper their chances of selection.

India's likely T20 World Cup squad (as per ESPNCricinfo)

Top order: Rohit Sharma (capt), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Virat Kohli, Suryakumar Yadav

Middle and lower-middle order: Sanju Samson (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shivam Dube, Rinku Singh

Spinners: Kuldeep Yadav

Fast bowlers: Jasprit Bumrah, Arshdeep Singh, Avesh Khan/Mohammed Siraj

Other contenders: KL Rahul, Yuzvendra Chahal, Ravi Bishnoi, Sandeep Sharma.

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